Dharamsala: While excitement is already soaring high among cricket fans for the mid-May Indian Premier League (IPL) matches at the picturesque Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) stadium, hoteliers here have started padding up to make the best of the occasion.
Even though the matches are more than a fortnight away, cricket buffs have already started making hotel reservations.
Mohit Sood, HPCA's press secretary, told IANS that over 20,000 fans are expected to witness the three matches involving Kings XI Punjab scheduled for May 15, 17 and 21.
"We faced accommodation problems in the last IPL season. This time we have managed to arrange more than 150 rooms well in advance in and around the town for the IPL officials, guests and mediapersons," he said.
For the players, the HPCA has constructed an ultra-luxurious residential complex, The Pavilion, some three kilometres from the stadium, with the mighty snow-clad Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas forming a perfect backdrop.
"The players will stay in 34 luxurious rooms. Work is on to construct 38 more rooms in the complex. These will be completed well before the matches. Last year the players really enjoyed their stay in wood cottages," said Sood.
The HPCA stadium, about 250 km from Shimla, also has a world-class indoor stadium comprising video analysis facilities for both bowlers and players, a club lounge, restaurant, bar and banquet hall.
However, members of the hospitality industry admitted that the spectators might face problems in getting suitable accommodation.
The town has 56 registered hotels and guest houses with a bed capacity of 1,100. Similarly, McLeodganj, eight kilometres from Dharamsala, has around 91 registered hotels with a capacity to accommodate 1,000 people.
But there is no five-star hotel in the vicinity of this small town.
Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) general manager Yogesh Behl said: "Most of the rooms in the five HPTDC-run hotels in Dharamsala have been booked. Now the cricket fans can look for accommodation in our nearby properties in Palampur and Jawalaji."
Both Palampur and Jawalaji towns are located within a 40-km radius of the stadium.
"In Palampur the tourists can enjoy visiting tea estates whereas Jawalaji is known for its temple," Behl said.
According to hotelier Ramesh Chaudhary, the tourist season in Dharamsala is not over, thanks to the IPL.
He said normally tourists, predominantly foreigners, come here to meet Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and attend his spiritual discourses.
"But now the (tourist) season is spilling off with the IPL matches being held here," Chaudhary said.
Available information suggests that most of those associated with the hospitality industry have jacked up prices as demand has gone up.
A hotel charging Rs.3,000 per day for a deluxe room has almost doubled the tariff.
Tourism Director Arun Sharma said a special drive would be launched ahead of the IPL to keep a tab on hotels and taxi operators.
The HPCA Stadium, located at an altitude of 4,000 feet, is being counted as the second home ground for the Kings XI Punjab team, which originally belongs to Mohali near Chandigarh.
It will host a day and night match between Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils May 15.
The second match, which will be played in the night, is between Royal Challengers and Kings XI Punjab May 17, while the third match, day-night - is between Kings XI Punjab and Deccan Chargers May 21.